Pretoria - Gauteng Premier Mbazima Shilowa says it is up to the women of today to seize the opportunities created by the country's first decade of democracy and ensure South Africa truly belongs to all who live in it.
Mr. Shilowa was speaking at the celebration of the National Women's day held at the Union Buildings.
The Premier told a large crowd of people from across Gauteng that it was on this day in 1956 whene 20 000 "brave" women marched here against apartheid and oppression of women.
Forty-nine years later, he added, the day remained an important one in the lives of all South Africans.
"We should use this day to pay tribute to the women of our country for their role in the struggle for freedom and democracy and to commit ourselves to do even more to improve the lives of women in our country;" the premier said
He added that the women who participated in the 1956 anti-pass march shattered the myth that a woman's place was in the kitchen.
"Instead they showed no amount of brutality will stop woman of South Africa in building a better future for themselves and their communities," Mr Shilowa said.
He also noted that 11 years into democracy, that generation was still an inspiration to the country.
"Like the women of yesteryear each successive generation must strive to build on the gains of the previous generation and achieve anew," he urged.
In his address, he said five out of ten MECs were women, while five out of eleven Heads of Departments were also women. At senior management level, he said 29 percent were women.
"We have set ourselves a target of 50 percent women in senior management by the end our current term of office in 2009," he said.
However, Shilowa said the same could not be said of women in local government. "There are few Mayors, Members of the Mayoral Committees and City Managers.
Mr Shilowa said this challenge was also prevalent in the private sector.
"The Johannesburg Stock Exchange is still male dominated. Most company boards have yet to have a meaningful representation of women and very little resources are made available to improve women sport.
"One of our vital achievements as a province has been the active participation of women across the province in the policy formulation through the Gauteng Women's Dialogue since 2003," the Premier said.
Themba Gadebe - BuaNews